Londoners shouldn’t suffer night flight noise because of Heathrow’s chaos, says MP

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There are fears the government could relax night flight quotas to ease stresses on terminals  (AP)
There are fears the government could relax night flight quotas to ease stresses on terminals (AP)

South-west Londoners should not have to suffer flight noise at all hours because of Heathrow Airport’s “incompetence”, Richmond Park’s MP has said.

Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps to demand that night flight quotas should not be relaxed while terminals struggle to meet pressures.

Heathrow has already apologised after delays caused arrivals and departures to be allowed during their usually restricted period between 11.30pm and 4.30am.

There are fears the government could relax night flight quotas to ease stresses on terminals, although the department for transport has said any such moves would require a consultation.

Ms Olney said the “massive disruption” stemming from demand at airports was “entirely foreseeable”.

She added: “Ministers could have prevented this disaster if they had acted decisively earlier in the year, but now they are willing to consider any half-baked policy that they think will get them out of this mess.

“Residents in south-west London are paying the price for both the government’s inaction and the aviation industry’s greed.

"Delayed arrivals on Sunday night meant the last plane arrived past midnight and the first got in at 4.33am. No one should have to live like this.”

Both Ms Olney has put forward studies which show the health detriments to having sleep disturbed by planes which are loud enough to wake someone up from deep sleep.

Paul Beckford, coordinator of anti-Heathrow noise pressure group Hacan, fears Heathrow could further permit “emergency” take-offs and landings later into the night.

He said Heathrow Airport decides if an emergency should be declared.

The resulting paperwork is shared only with the department for transport annually.

The department has said: “There are no plans to change the overall night flight quotas allotted to airports, and any change would be subject to consultation.”

Ms Olney responded: “Any consultation on relaxing night flight rules will be a farce. The community will be ignored, and the government will continue to put airline profits ahead of people’s health.

“The option of allowing more night flights must be taken off the table. Residents should not have to suffer because of airport's incompetence.”

A department for transport statement added: “It is common practice for airports to use their powers to allow additional night flights in certain circumstances, and many have permitted more recently to help minimise travel disruption.”

Heathrow Airport has declined to comment.

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